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Francis J. CarmoJ^dy 


Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius 

The Misanthrope 




Edited by E. Haldeman -Julius 

The Misanthrope 

Comedy in Five Acts 

Moliere f se<x*\ fc<xpVi<?Ve 
PoqueliA , itaa -lVt-3 


Copyright, 1922, 
Haldeman-Julius Company 

Alceste, Lover of Celimena 
Philinte, Friend of Alceste. 
Oronte, Lover of Celimene. 
Celimene, a young widow. 
Eliante, Cousin of Celimene. 
Arsinoe, friend of Celimene. 
Acaste ) 
Clitrandre j Marquises. 
Basque, footman to Celimene. 
Soldier, of the Marshals' Guard. 
Dubois, valet to Alceste. 




Philinte. What is the matter? What troubles 
you, Alceste? 

Alceste (seated). Leave me, I beg of you. 

Philinte. But still, tell me, what whim 

Alceste. Leave me, I say; take yourself out 
of sight. 

Philinte. But at least you might listen to a 
man without being angry. 

Alceste. I choose to be angry, and I do not 
choose to listen. 

Philinte. I cannot understand you when your 
temper is hot; and though we are friends, I 

Alceste. Friends! I your friend? Strike my 
name off your list. Till now. I have professed to 
be your friend; but after wrlat I have just seen 
of you, I tell you bluntly I am no longer. I 
will hold no place in a corrupted heart. 

Philinte. Then, am I guilty in your eyes, Al- 

Alceste. You ought to die of shame; such con- 
duct cannot be excused; all men of honor must 
feel humiliated by it. I see you overwhelming 
a stranger with attentions; testifying the utmost 
ardor for him; making protestations, offers of 
service, vows; and when I ask you afterward 
who he is, you can hardly tell me the man's 
name! Your ardor for him sinks the moment 



!? a ,L?? u l eave ninl - and you inform me he 
is nothing to yon. Good God! it is a shameful 
thing, base, infamous, thus to degrade your soul 
by treachery; if I, through some misfortune 
had done as much I would go hang myself in 
sheer remorse. m^&en m 

PMinte I cannot see, for my part, that 
mine's a hanging case; so I make bold to ap- 
peal against your sentence and beg you not 
to hang me, if it please you. 

Alceste. Jesting is most unseemly 

have me'do? Seri USly ' then ' What uld *** 
/ fc \ T uld have you be sincere, and, 
from "our heart n0r ' "" D W rd that * s n * 
Philinte. But when a man comes up to you 
and ? alu i e s you joyfully, surely you must pay 
him in he self-same coin, make some response 

yow 1S for V vow eS ' retUrn hlm ffer fOT .oera 
Alceste. No, I cannot endure that abiect 
custom which the majority of your worldly 
friends affect. I hate nothing so much as the 
ntl n =f f- Dd scra P in S of those great makers of 
protestations, those affable givers of trumpery 
kisses those obliging praters of empty words 
who strive to outdo each other with civilities 
and treat an honest man and a seoundre lwUh 
e ^ * nianner. What advantage 
It ". 1. you . lf a m an courts you, swears 
friendship faith, zeal, honor, tenderness makes 

rou n dTn%h , i IS ? me f ^Pyment, and then 
round to the first rascal whom he meets and 

wa e nfi h n e n Salne? No ' no > a well-condiKd soul 
wants no esteem so prostituted; the finest hos- 

?ited witfth Va ' UeI 5 SS ^ hen we nd ourselves 
rated with the crowd. Esteem is based on pref- 


erence; to esteem the whole world alike is 
to feel no esteem for any one. And because 
you addict yourself to these vices of the time, 
mor'bleu! you are not of my kind. I refuse the 
vast complaisance of a heart that sees no shades 
of merit; I choose that mine shall be dis- 
tinguished, and to cut the matter short the 
friend of the whole human race is not to 
my liking. 

Philinte. But so long as we live in social 
life, we must pay the outward civilities that 
custom demands. 

^Alceste. No, I tell you, no; we ought to 
chastise, pitilessly, this shameful interchange 
of make-believe friendship. I want a man to 
be a man, and let the bottom of his heart be 
seen in all he says, and in all he does. Let it 
be himself who speaks, not masking his real 
feelings behind false compliments. 

Philinte. There are many situations in 
which plain frankness would become ridiculous, 
and is not permissible; and sometimes if it 
please your lofty honor it may be well to hide 
what is in our hearts. Would it be fitting, 
would it be decent to tell all men what we 
think of them? And if there be any one whom 
we dislike or think unpleasant ought we to 
let him know it? 

Alceste. Yes. Philinte. What! would you 
tell old Emilie that 't is unbecoming at her 
age to play the pretty girl; or that the paint 
she wears shocks every one? 

Alceste. Undoubtedly. Philinte. Would you 
tell Dorilas that he is tiresome; that there is 
not an ear at court he does not weary with 
tales of his own bravery and the glory of his 

Alceste. I should. Philinte. You are joking. 


Alceste. I am not joking. In future I will 
spare none. My eyes are too offended. Court 
and society both show me nought but things 
that stir my bile. When I see men living to- 
gether as they do a black spleen seizes me, a 
bitter grief. Everywhere I find base flattery 
injustice, self-interest, treachery, deceit I 
cannot bear it longer; I am enraged; and my 
intention is to tell the truth henceforth, to all 
the human race. 

Philinte. Your philosophic wrath is some- 
what savage; I laugh at that black spleen I 
see has gripped you You and I are like the 
brothers in the "School for Husbands," brought 
up as one, and yet 

Alceste. Good God! give up those dull com- 

Philinte. Give up yourself this churlish 
virulence. Your teachings cannot change the 
world. Since frankness charms you, I will tell 
you bluntly this disease of yours is laughed at 
everywhere you go. Such wrath against the 
ways of the world makes you ridiculous in the 
eyes of many." 

Alceste. So much the better; good heavens* 
so much the better; that is what I want; to me 
t is the best of signs and a great satisfaction. 
Men have become so odious to me that I'd be 
grieved indeed to be well thought of by them 

Philmte. Then you attribute nought but evil 
to human nature? 

Alceste. I do; I hate it with a dreadful 

Philinte. All poor mortals, then, without 
exception, are included in this deep aversion? 
Surely there may be, in our present age 

Alceste. No, it is universal; I hate all men: 
some because they are wicked and evil-doers; 


others because they fawn upon the wicked, and 
dare not show that vigorous hatred which vir- 
tuous souls should feel to vice. From such 
compliance comes immunity for the bare-faced 
villain whom I now am suing. Behind his 
mask the knave is seen, wherever he is known, 
for what he is; the rolling of his eye, his 
bated voice, impose on none but those who do 
not live here. All others know about the 
sneaking fellow, fit only to be shunned, has 
by the foulest actions foisted himself upon so- 
ciety, where his career, by their connivance 
clothed in splendor, makes merit groan and 
virtue blush. No cries of "shame" can make 
his miserable honor hear them. Call him a 
knave, a scoundrel, a damned villain, all the 
world agrees, and no man contradicts you; but 
he is welcomed everywhere; wherever he may 
worm himself he's greeted; men smile upon 
him; and if there's a canvass to be made, a 
place to be intrigued for, you will see him 
get the better of honest men. Great God! it 
is to me a mortal wound to see how vice is 
thus condoned and trafficked with. At times 
the impulse seizes me to flee to a desert and 
renounce my kind. 

Philinte. Good heavens! why take the cus- 
toms of our time so hard; why be so little 
merciful to human nature? Examine it less 
sternly, and see its failures with some gentle- 
ness. In social life we need a pliant virtue; 
severe integrity is often blamable; sound rea- 
son shuns extremes, and teaches wisdom with 
sobriety. The rigid virtue of the olden time 
jars with our age and with our modern cus- 
toms: We must yield somewhat to our time, 
and not reluctantly. It is a folly, second to 
no other, to meddle with the world and try to 


mend it. I see, as you do, fifty things a day 
which might be better, or take other courses. 
At every step I'm tempted to break forth, like 
you, but no one sees me do it. I take men 
gently just for . what they are; I've trained my 
soul to tolerate what they do. At court and 
in society I think my phlegm, Alceste, is, to 
the full, as philosophic as your bile. 

Alceste. But that phlegm, Philinte, which 
reasons well, is it incapable of indignation? 
Suppose, perchance, a friend betrayed you, or 
frauds were planned to steal your property, or 
wicked rumors spread to injure you, could 
you endure all that and not be angry? 

Philinte. Yes. I regard those evils, that your 
soul resents, as vices consequent to human na- 
ture; my soul is not more shocked by seeing 
men unjust, dishonest, selfish, than by the 
sight of vultures hungering after carnage, or 
thieving monkeys or infuriate wolves. 

Alceste. I'll see myself betrayed, hacked into 
pieces, robbed, before I'll Good God! why 
talk? such reasoning is sheer sophistry. 

Philinte. Faith! I advise you to keep silence; 
don't rage against your kind so much, and give 
more care to the lawsuit which you have upon 
your hands. 

Alceste. I shall give none; that I'm de- 
termined on. 

Philinte. Then who do you expect will plead 
your case? 

Alceste. Plead it? why, reason, my good 
right, and equity. 

Philinte. Do you mean you will not go to 
see a single judge? 

Alceste. Not one. My cause is neither 
doubtful nor unjust. 


Philinte. Agreed; but underhand intrigues 
are most disastrous, and 

Alceste. No; I'm resolved to take no steps. 
Either I am wrong, or I am right. 

Philinte. Don't trust to that. 

Alceste. I shall not stir a finger. 

Philinte. Your enemy is strong, and may, by 
making a cabal, bear off 

Alceste. I care nought for that. 

Philinte. Then you are wrong. 

Alceste. So be it. I wish to see him^win 
the case. 

Philinte. But 

Alceste. I shall have pleasure if I lose my 

Philinte. But surely 

Alceste. I shall see in court if men will have 
the effrontery will be wicked, scoundrelly, 
perverse enough to do me injustice openly be- 
fore the world. 

Philinte. Oh, what a man! 

Alceste. I would gladly lose my cause, did 
it cost me half my fortune, to prove that fact. 

Philinte. The world would laugh at you in 
bitter earnest if it could hear you talk in this 

Alceste. So much the worse for him who 

Philinte. But this integrity you ask from 
every one, this honest and straightforward 
dealing in which you hug yourself, do you find 
it here in her you love? It does surprise me 
that having quarrelled with the human race so 
bitterly, you have been caught, in spite of much 
you might indeed think odious, but that which 
charms the eye. But what surprises me still 
more, is the strange choice to which your heart 
is pledged. Eliante, sincere and truthful, has 


a liking for you; Arsinoe, the prude, looks soft- 
ly at you with a melting eye; and yet your soul 
rejects their love and makes itself a toy for 
Selimene, whose coquetry and treacherous wit 
symbol the morals of the present day. How 
comes it that, hating as you do our social 
foibles, you can endure the ways of that fair 
lady? Does all you hate cease to be evil in so 
sweet a form? or do you choose excuse it? 

Alceste. No; the love I feel for that young 
widow in no way blinds me to her great de- 
fects* I am, in spite of the passion she in- 
spires in me, the first to see them and the 
first to blame. But with it all, in spite, too, 
of my will, she has I own my weakness the 
art of pleasing me. In vain I see her faults; 
in vain I blame her; in spite of all, she makes 
me love her. Her grace, her charm, are 
stronger than all else. Doubtless, my love will 
purge her soul of worldly vices in the course 
of time. 

Philinte. If you do that you will have done 
great things. Then you think she loves you? 

Alceste. Yes, by heaven! I could not love 
her did she not love me. 

Philinte. But if her love for you is so ap- 
parent why do you fret yourself about your 
rivals? , , 

Alceste. Because a heart which deeply loves 
needs that the object of that love be all its own; 
and I have come here now to tell her, as to 
that, all that my passion urges me to say. 

Philinte. For my part, if 't were granted me 
to form a wish, her cousin Eliante would have 
my longings. Eliante's heart, which cares for 
yours, is steadfast and sincere; had your choice 
fallen there it would have been in keeping with 
your needs. 


Alceste. True; my reason daily tells me so; 
but 't is not reason that rules love. 

Philinte. I greatly fear your passion and 
your hopes may 



Oronte, to Alceste. They told me below that 
Celimene and Eliante had gone out shopping; 
but as they also said that you were here, I 
have come up to tell you from an honest heart 
how great an admiration I've conceived for 
you, and that I long have had an ardent wish 
to be among your friends. Yes, my heart revels 
in doing justice to great merit; and I eagerly 
desire some bond of friendship to unite us. A 
warm friend of my quality is not, I think, to 
be rejected. [During' Oronte's harangue Alceste 
is dreamy and seems not to notice he is oeing 
spoken to. He does not come out of his revery 
till Oronte says:~\ It is to you, if you please, 
that my words are addressed. 

Alceste. To me, monsieur? 

Oronte. To you. Do you find them displeas- 

Alceste. Not at all. But my surprise is 
great, for I did not expect the honor I receive. 

Oronte. You need feel no surprise at the es- 
teem in which I hold you, since that of the 
whole universe is yours. 

Alceste. Monsieur 

Oronte. The State has no reward that is not 
far beneath the dazzling merit all men see in 

Alceste. Monsieur 

Oronte. Yes; for my part, I hold you pre- 
ferable to all I see that is most eminent. 

Alceste. Monsieur 


Oronte. May the heavens crush me if my 
words are false. To prove my feelings, suffer 
me to embrace you with an open heart ask- 
ing, as I do so, a place in your regard. Give 
me your hand, if it please you. You promise 
me, do you not, your friendship? 

Alceste. Monsieur 

Oronte. What! you refuse? 

Alceste. Monsieur, the honor you propose 
to me is great. But friendship asks more mys- 
tery; and it is, assuredly, a profanation of that 
name to seek to use it upon all occasions. Such 
union is born of knowledge and of choice; we 
should know each other better before we bind 
ourselves; for each might have -such disposi- 
tions that both would soon repent of our rash 

Oronte. Ah! there indeed you speak with 
judgment, and my esteem for you is all the 
greater. Let us leave time to knot these gentle 
bonds. Meantime, I place myself at your dis- 
posal. If you have any overtures to make at 
court, command me; for it is known I have 
some favor with the king; he listens to me; 
and, upon my word, in every way he treats me 
most considerately. In short, I am yours, to 
use as you may wish; and, as your mind is 
known to be so brilliant, I have come in order 
to begin the tie between us to read to you 
a sonnet I have lately written, and ask you if 
't were well to offer it to the public. 

Alceste. Monsieur, I am most unfit to settle 
such a question. I beg you to excuse me. 

Oronte. Excuse you! why? 

Alceste. I have the defect of being more 
sincere than persons wish. 

Oronte. But that is what I want. I should 
have reason to complain if, trusting to your 


sincerity to speak without disguise, you should 
deceive me. 

Alceste. If that is how you take it, monsieur, 
I am willing. 

Oronte. Sonnet It is a sonnet, monsieur. 
To Hope in fact, to a lady who has granted 
some hope to my passion. To Hope The 
lines are not grand, pompous poesy, but simple 
verses, tender, sweet and languishing. 
Alceste. We shall see, monsieur. 
Oronte. To Hope I know not whether the 
style will seem to you sufficiently clear and 
easy, and whether my choice of words will 
satisfy you. 
Alceste. We shall see, monsieur. 
Oronte. I ought, perhaps, to tell you that 
I was only a quarter of an hour in writing 

Alceste. Go on, monsieur; the time has noth- 
ing to do with it. 
Oronte, reading. 

'T is true that hope doth comfort bring, 
And it rocks a time our sorrow; 
But, Phillis, 't is a sadder thing 
If we leave not on the morrow. 
Philintc. I am charmed already with the 
little poem. 

Alceste (low to Philinte). What! have you 
the face to call that fine? 
Oronte, reading. 
Your complaisance methinks is lost; 
You ought to keep your favors low, 
And not yourself put to such cost, 
If hope is all 'you deign bestow. 
Philinte. Ah! with what gallantry that 
phrase is turned. 

Alceste (low to Philinte). Good heavens! vile 
flatterer, you are praising nonsense. 


Oronte, reading. 
If hope eternally delayed, 
Quenches my ardor thus betrayed, 
Death can alone my succor be. 

Your smiles can nothing then repair, 
Pair Phillis, it is all despair 
When we must hope eternally. 

Philinte. The cadence of that last line is 
charming, amorous, admirable. 

Alceste (aside). Damn his cadence! The 
devil! 't is, poisonous; I would the words might 
choke him. 

Philinte. I have never heard verses better 

Alceste (aside). Good God! 

Oronte (to Philinte). You flatter me; perhaps 
you think 

Philinte. I never flatter. 

Alceste (aside). Ah, traitor! what are you 
doing now? 

Oronte (to Alceste). But you? Remember 
the terms of our treaty; speak to me, I entreat 
you in all sincerity. 

Alceste. Monsieur, this matter is always 
delicate. We like to be flattered on our wit 
and wisdom. I said one day to a man whose 
name I will not mention, on hearing certain 
verses he had written, that it behooved a gallant 
man to restrain the lust of scribbling which 
seizes on us all, and put a curb upon his pasr 
sion for notoriety through such amusements; 
and I also told him that by his eagerness to 
show his work to others he laid himself open 
to the' jeers of malice. 

Oronte. Do you mean by that to tell me I 
am wrong in wishing 

Alceste. I do not say so. I warned him 
that cold criticism crushed; that for this weak- 


ness men were much decried; that they might 
have a hundred noble qualities, but the world 
would judge them only by their foibles. 

Oronte. You think, that, that my sonnet is 

Alceste. I do not say so. I showed him, to 
stop his writing, how, in our day, this lust of 
scribbling has spoiled most worthy men. 

Oronte. Do I write badly, and resemble 

Alceste. I do not say so. Finally I said: 
"What pressing need have you to make these 
rhymes? What devil drives you into print? 
If the issue of a wretched book is ever pardon- 
able it is when some poor luckless fellow has 
written it for bread. Believe me, resist your 
temptations; deprive the public of your labors. 
Don't sacrifice no matter who may urge it 
.the name you bear at court as a most worthy 
man to take from grasping printers the repute 
of a ridiculous and miserable author/' That is 
what I endeavored to make him understand. 

Oronte. This is all very well, and I think I 
understand you. But may I not know what 
there is in my sonnet 

Alceste. Frankly, it is good for nothing but 
to put in the fire. You have modelled your- 
self on the worst examples. None of your ex- 
pressions are natural. "Rocks a time" what is 
that? "We leave not on the morrow" who 
leave? "And not yourself put to such test" 
what a phrase! And what may this mean: 
"Phillis, it is all despair when we must hope 
eternally?" This figurative style, of which our 
present writers are so proud, is out of keeping 
with sincerity and sound writing. 'Tis a mere 
trick of words, pure affectation. That is not 
the way in which nature speaks. The shocking 


taste of the present century alarms me; coarse 
as our fathers were, their taste was better. 
As for me, I care far less for the finest things 
of the day than for this old song I'll now repeat 

to you: 

"If the king had given to me* 
His great town, his belle Paris, 

Would I but leave my sweet, my dear, 
My dear I love so well; 
I should say to the King Henri, 
Take back, take back your belle Paris, 
I love my love, 

O gay! 
I love my love too well." 
The rhyme is not rich, and the style is old- 
fashioned; but do you not see how much better 
it is than all that affectation at which good 
sense groans? That's what the heart says when 
it really loves [To Philinte, who is laughing. ] 
Yes, you may scoff; but in spite of your beaux 
esvrits, I think more of that song than of all 
the flowery pomposity and false brilliancy 
which they cry up. 

Orcnte. For my part, I insist that my verses 
are good. 

Alceste. You have your reasons for think- 
ing so, and you must allow me to have my 
reasons, which decline to submit to yours. 

Oronte. 'Tis sufficient for me to know that 
others think well of them. 

Alceste, Others have the art of feigning; 
I have not. 

Oronte. Did nature allot you a monopoly of 

Alceste. Should I have more if I praised 
your verses? 

Oronte. I can do very well without your 


Alceste. You must, if you please, do with- 
out it. 

Oronte. I would like to see you compose, in 
your style, a sonnet on that subject. 

Alceste. I might, by ill luck, make sonnets 
as bad; but I should take good care that no 
one ever saw them. 

Oronte. You speak very curtly; and all this 

Alceste. Go, seek elsewhere the incense that 
you want. 

Oronte. Be pleased, my little monsieur, to 
lower your tone. 

Alceste. Faith! my grand monsieur, I speak 
as I choose. 

Philinte (placing himself between them). Mes- 
sieurs, hey! messieurs; this is going too far. 
Let the matter drop, I beg of you. 

Oronte. Yes, I am wrong, I own it, and I 
leave the house. I am your valet, monsieur, 
and with all my heart. 

Alceste. And I your humble servant. 




Alceste. Madame, will you allow me to speak 
frankly? I am not contented with your ways 
of action; they stir such bitterness within my 
breast I feel 't were better we should break 
aparc. Yes, to speak otherwise would be de- 
ceiving you. Sooner or later, inevitably, the 
break must come. Were I to pledge you to 
the contrary a thousand times, I should be 
unable to keep my promise. 


Celimene. Is it to quarrel with me that you 
have wished to bring me home? 

Alceste. Quarrel, no. But your disposition 
is, madame, to give to each new-comer access 
to your soul; you allow too many lovers to be- 
set you, and my heart cannot adapt itself to 

Celimene. Then, do you hold me guilty be- 
cause men love me? How can I help it if they 
think me lovable? And when they take such 
pleasant pains to see me, am I to take a stick 
and drive them forth? 

Alceste. No, it is not a stick you need, 
madame, but a heart less facile and less tender 
to their wishes. I know your charms attend 
you wLeresoe'er you go; but your welcome 
holds in bonds the admirers whom your eyes 
attract; its sweetness, offered to all who pay 
you homage, completes the work your charms 
began. The smiling hope you grant them fast- 
ens their assiduities upon you; but if you made 
your kindness less inclusive this mob of lovers 
would be put to flight. Tell me, at least, why 
Clitandre has the luck to please you? On 
what foundation of worth or splendid virtue do 
you base the regard with which you honor 
him? Is it the inordinate length of his little- 
finger nail that wins him the esteem you are 
seen to give him? Have you succumbed, with 
all the fashionable world, to the dazzling merit 
of that blond periwig? Are the fine ruffles at 
his knees the reasons that you like him? those 
knots of ribbon, have they charmed you? Is 
it the allurement of his mighty breeches which 
wins your soul to making him your slave? Or 
his manner of laughing, his falsetto voice, have 
they discovered the secret power of touching 


Celimene. How unjustly you take umbrage 
at Clitandre! You know the reason why I 
treat him kindly; he has promised to interest 
all his friends in this lawsuit I have upon my 
hands. , 

Alceste. Lose your suit bravely, madame, 
and curry no favor with a rival I dislike. 

Celimene. But you are growing jealous of 
the universe! 

Alceste. Because you welcome the whole 
universe too well. 

Celimene. That very thing should soothe 
your nettled soul; my favors, as you see, are 
shed on all; if one alone received them you 
would have far more cause to take offence. 

Alceste. But I whom you reproach for too 
much jealousy, what favors have I more than 
they, if I may ask? 

Celimene. The happiness of knowing you 
are loved. 

Alceste. How can my tortured heart believe 

Celimene. I think that having taken pains 
to tell you so, such an admission ought to 
satisfy you. 

Alceste. But what assurance have I that you 
are not, even now, saying the same to others? 

Celimene. Certainly, for a lover, your gal- 
lant speeches are too pretty; you treat me with 
such graceful courtesy! Well, to remove that 
anxious question from your mind, I here unsay 
all that I said; make yourself easy; nothing 
can now deceive you but yourself. 

Alceste. Good God! why must I love you? 
If I could snatch my heart out of your hands 
I would bless heaven for such rare luck! I 
do not deny that I have striven with all my 
strength to tear this terrible attachment from 


my soul; but every effort fails; it must be for 
my sins I love you so! 

Celimene. Your passion for me is indeed un- 

Alceste. Yes, in that I can defy the world. 
My love is not to be conceived of; and no one, 
madame, has ever loved as I do. 

Celimene. Your method of doing so is truly 
novel; it seems you love a woman that you 
may quarrel with her; your ardor blazes forth 
in angry words; and sure no love was ever yet 
so scolding. , x ] 

Alceste. It rests with you to make that 
anger pass. For God's sake, madame, let us 
cut short these bickerings, speak heart to heart 
and put a stop 



Celimene. "What is it? 
Basque. Acaste is here. 
Celimene. "Well, show him up. 



Alceste. What! am I never to have you to 
myself? Why are you so ready to receive the 
world? Can you not endure for a single mo- 
ment of your day to deny yourself to visitors? 

Celimene. Do you wish him to quarrel with 

Alceste. You show him a deference that I 
do not like. _ 

Celimene. He is a man who would never 
forgive me if he saw that I considered him in- 
trusive. ,. x 

Alceste. Is that a reason for disturbing your- 


Celimene. Heavens, yes! good-will is of 
value among our fellows. He belongs to a set 
who, I scarcely know why, have acquired at 
court a right to be heard. They manage to 
obtain an entrance everywhere; and though, 't 
is true, they may not serve us, they are able 
to do us a vast deal of harm. Therefore, no 
matter what support one has elsewhere, we 
ought never to quarrel with such babbling 

Alceste. In short, whatever happens and 
whoever comes, you find good reasons to see 
all the world; and these precautions about 
your lawsuit 



Basque. Clitandre is also here, madame. 
Alceste. Precisely! (Moves as if to go.) 
Celimene. Where are you going? 
Alceste. To leave you. 

Celimene. Very good, go; leave the house; 
you may do as you choose. 




Eliante to Celimene. The two marquises 
are coming up. Has anyone announced them? 

Celimene. Yes. (To Basque) Place chairs 
for all. (To Alceste) What! you did not go? 

Alceste. No; for I wish, madame, to make 
you speak your mind, either for them or else 
for me 

Celimene. Hush, be silent 

Alceste. Today you shall explain yourself. 

Celimene. You have lost your senses. 


Alceste. Not at all. You shall declare your- 

Clitandre. Ah! madame, I am just from the 
Louvre, where Cleonte, at the levee, was su- 
premely absurd. Has he no friend who would 
with charitable advice enlighten him as to his 

Celimene. He is indeed a bungler in society; 
he makes himself conspicuous wherever he may 
be; and when one sees him after a slight in- 
terval he seems to be more ridiculous than 
ever . 

Acaste. Talk of ridiculous people! i' faith, 
I've just been undergoing one of the most 
tiresome, Damon, the moralizer, who, if you 11 
believe me, kept me one whole hour out of my 
chair, standing in the hot sun. 

Celimene. Yes he 's a wonderful talker, who 
has the art of telling you nothing in a^ great 
harangue. There 's never any point to what ne 
says; 't is only noise to which we listen. 

Eliante, to Philinte. This beginning is 
cheerful; the conversation is starting at good 
speed against our neighbors. 

Clitandre. But there 's Timante, madame; 
he is rather a good fellow. 

Celimene. Ah! he 's a man of mystery from 
head to foot; he flings you, as he passes, a 
haggard glance, because, without a thing to do, 
he is always busy. His speeches are too lull 
of flourishes; he pesters one to death by dint 
of mannerism. He always has some secret to 
whisper in one's ear, breaking up a conver- 
sation, and the secret is invariably nothing. 
Out of the merest trifle he makes a mystery; 
and even his good-byes, he whispers them. 
Acaste. And Geralde, madame? 


Celimene. Oh! that wearisome chatterer! 
when will he cease to play the grand seigneur? 
He mingles only with the shining lights, and 
quotes his dukes, his princes and princesses. 
The quality infatuates him; and all his talk 
is now of horses, equipages, dogs. He calls the 
personages of highest rank by their first 
names; the plain word "monsieur" is forgotten 
by him. 

Clitandre. They say he is on the closest 
terms with the Bleise. 

Celimene. That poor stupid woman! oh, what 
dry intercourse! I suffer martyrdom when she 
comes to see me; I perspire with the effort to 
find something to say; the obtuseness of her 
expression kills the words on my lips. In vain 
I assault her stupid silence with all the common- 
places I can call to my assistance, fine weath- 
er, rain, heat, cold. But those are topics that 
are soon exhausted, and then her visit, always 
intolerable, drags its fearful length along. In 
vain I look to see what time it is; I yawn a 
score of times; she does not budge more than 
a log of wood. 

Acaste. What do you think of Adraste? 

Celimene. Ah! what excessive pride! He 
is a man puffed up with admiration of himself. 
His sense of his deserts is never satisfied at 
court, and so he rails against the court, and 
proceedings daily. There's never an office, 
post, or privilege given but what he thinks he's 
treated with injustice. 

Clitandre. But that young Cleon, at whose 
house all our best people now are visiting; 
w T hat do you say of him? 

Celimene. Why, that he makes his cook his 
merit, and that the world visits his dinners 
and not him. 


EUante. But he takes care that all the 
choicest things are served there. 

Cclimene. Yes; but I wish he would not 
serve himself; his silly person is a horrid 
dish which spoils, to my taste, all the feasts he 

Philinte.- The world at any rate thinks 
highly of his uncle, Damis; what do you say of 
him, madame? 

Cclimene. He is a friend of mine. 

PhiUnte. I think him an honest man, and 
he looks a wise one. 

Cclimene. Yes, but he pretends to too much 
mind; it irritates me. He is always straining; 
ir what he says you see him in travail to pro- 
duce tons mots. Since he took it into his 
head to be so clever, nothing pleases his taste, 
he is too fastidious. He sees defects in every- 
thing that's written; he thinks a wit should 
never praise; he counts it learned to find fault; 
fools only can admire his laugh. By approving 
nothing in the works of the day, he fancies he 
exalts himself above his fellows. Even in con- 
versation he finds something to reprove; the 
topics are so low he will not condescend to 
them. He stands, arms folded, and, from the 
pinnacle of his mind, looks down in pity upon 
what we say. 

Acaste. God bless me! that's his veritable 

Clitandre, to Celimene. For painting people 
to the life, you are incomparable. 

Alceste. On, on, set on each other, my good 
friends at court! Spare none, let each man 
have his turn. And yet, if one of them appears 
in sight you haste to meet him, give him your 
hand, offer him flattering kisses, and swear by 
all the oaths to be his servant. 


Clitandre. Why find fault with us? If what 
was said displeases you, address your reproaches 
to madame. 

Alceste. No, by heaven! it is to you I make 
them; your compliant laughter incites her wit 
to these ill-natured speeches. Her satire feeds 
upon the wicked incense of your flattery; and 
if she did not see herself applauded her heart 
would be less prone to ridicule. 'Tis thus that 
flatterers are guilty of the vices which corrupt 

Philinte. But why do you take such interest 
in the persons thus condemned, since you your- 
self would blame in them the selfsame faults. 

Celimene. Is it not monsieur's nature to 
contradict? Why expect him to agree with the 
general voice, or to refrain from exhibiting, 
wherever he may be, the cavijling spirit he re- 
ceived from heaven? The opinion of others is 
never agreeable to him. He sets up his own, 
believing he would be thought a common man 
if it were seen to agree with that of the world. 
The pleasure of contradicting has such charms 
for his soul that he sometimes, and not seldom, 
takes arms against himself, and wages war 
upon his own real feelings when he hears them 
uttered by the lips of others. 

Alceste. The laugh is on your side, madame, 
and there's nothing to be said. You can wing 
your shafts of satire on me as you please. 

Philinte. But is it not true that your mind 
antagonizes whatever is said, and is unable, 
from a bitterness you avow yourself, to endure 
that others should either blame or praise? 

Alceste. Yes; for the reason that men are 
never right. My bitterness is just; I find them, 
wherever they may be, offensive flatterers or 
rash censors. 

Celimene. But 


Alceste. No, madame, no; if I die for it, I 
must say that you find pleasure in things I can- 
not bear; and these friends here do wrong to 
foster in your soul this great indulgence of de- 
fects that injure it. 

Clitandre. For myself I shall say nothing; 
but as for madame, I must openly declare that I 
have hitherto believed her faultless. 

Acaste. I see the graces and the attractions 
that heaven has granted her; but her defects 
have never, I must say, struck my eye. 

Alceste. They all strike mine; and far from 
overlooking them, I take pains, as she well 
knows, to bring them to her knowledge. The 
more we* love our friends, the less we flatter 
them; it is by excusing nothing that pure love 
shows itself. For my part, I would banish 
those unworthy lovers who slavishly submit to 
all my sentiments, and by their weak compli- 
ance swing incense to my follies. 

Celimene. In short, if hearts should look at 
things in your way, they must, in order to love 
truly, renounce all sweetness, and find the 
crown of perfect love in heaping insults on the 
object of it. 

Eliante. Love, as a rule, is little ruled by 
laws. All lovers, as we know, boast of their 
choice. True passion does not see that which 
is blamable; the one beloved is always lovable. 
Defects love thinks perfections, and gives them 
pleasant names. The pallid one is comparable 
to the jasmine in her whiteness; the swarthy 
skin becomes a rich brunette; thinness gives 
freedom of motion and a slender waist; the 
portly dame is full of majesty; she who neglects 
her person and takes no pains to charm is 
called a careless beauty; the giantess becomes 
a goddess; the dwarf, an epitome of all heaven's 
marvels; the haughty spirit deserves a crown; 


the tricky mind has wit; the fool is kind; the 
chatterer, good-humored; the silent one main- 
tains her virtuous modesty. 'Tis thus a lover 
whose passion is supreme loves even the defects 
of her he worships. 

Akeste. And I maintain, yes I 

Celimene. Come, let us end this talk, and 
take a turn or two about the gallery What! 
are you going, gentlemen? 

Clitandre and Acaste. Oh, no madame. 

AJceste. The fear of their departure weighs 
on your soul. Gentlemen, leave when you 
please; but I warn you, I shall not go till you 
are gone. 

Acaste. Unless my presence importunes ma- 
dame, I can stay here all day, for nothing calls 
me hence. 

Clitandre. As for me, provided I return for 
the king's eoucher, I have no other matters to 
attend to. 

Celimene, to Alceste. You are joking, I am 

Alceste. No, not in any sense. We shall 
see now if it is I of whom you are anxious to 
be rid. 




Basque to Alceste. Monsieur, a man is below 
who wishes to see you, he says, on business 
which cannot be delayed. 

Alceste. Tell him I know of no such urgent 

Basque. He wears a jacket with great pleat- 
ed basques, and gold upon it. 

Celimene. to Alceste. Go, see who it is; or 
else, have him shown up. 




Alceste, advancing to meet him. Come in, 
monsieur. What do you want with me? 

Soldier. Monsieur, I have two words to say- 
to you. 

Alceste. You can speak out; I am prepared 
to hear you. 

Soldier. The Marshals, whom I serve, mon- 
sieur, bid you come to them at once. 1 

Alceste. Me? bid me, monsieur? 

Soldier. Yes, you. 

Alceste. Buy why? 

Philinte, to Alceste. Because of that ridicu- 
lous affair between yourself and Oronte. 

Celimene, to Philinte. What affair? 

Philinte. Oronte and he had words about 
some verses he would not admire; and the 
Marshals wish to nip the matter in the bud. 

Alceste. I will not have the base compliance 

Philinte. But you must obey the order; 
come, let us go. 

Alceste. What sort of terms do they desire 
to make between us? Will the Marshals order 
me to think the verses that caused our quarrel 
good? I shall not unsay what I have said, I 
think them bad. 

Philinte. But a gentler tone 

Alceste. I shall not yield one inch; the lines 
are execrable. 

x The court of the Marshals of France took 
cognizance of quarrels and affairs of honor 
among gentlemen. 


Celimene. Come, come, make haste and go 
where you are summoned. 

Alceste. I go, madame; but I shall soon re- 
turn to settle, in this room, the matter we have 
been discussing. 




Clitandre. I observe, my dear marquis, that 
your soul is contented; all things make you 
cheerful, and nothing frets. Now, tell me in 
good faith, do you really believe, without self- 
deception, that you have any sound reason 
for being so happy? 

Acaste. Parbleu! I don't see, when I look 
myself over, any ground whatever for discon- 
tent. I have property, I am young, I belong 
to a house which has certain good reasons to 
call itself noble; and I think, through the 
rank to which my blood entitles me, there are 
very few stations in life that I cannot fill. As 
to courage, of which, of course, we ought to 
think first, I know, without vanity, that I am 
not lacking there; I have been seen by the 
world to carry on an affair in a sufficiently 
vigorous and dashing manner. As for wit, 
there's no question but what I have that, and 
with it enough good taste to judge without 
study, and to talk about everything. At the 
theatre, of which I am truly an idolator, I 
can wear a wise face, decide the fortunes 
of a play, and lead the applause at all the fine 
speeches which merit hurrahs. I'm sufficiently 
active; I've a good air and good looks, above 
all fine teeth, and my figure is slim. As to 
my style of dressing, I think, without vanity. 


that any one would be foolish to rival me 
there. My position in the world is as good as 
can be; the fair sex adore me; I stand well 
with the king; and, therefore, my dear mar- 
quis, I see, on all sides, every reason to be 
satisfied with myself. 

Clitandre. Yet. But finding everywhere so 
many easy conquests, why do you persist in 
offering useless homage here? 

Acaste. Useless? ParUeu! I'm not of a 
kind nor of a temper to stand cold treatment 
from any beauty. 'Tis only common minds and 
ill-bred persons who burn persistently for 
frigid dames, or languish at their feet, en- 
dure their rigor, seek help from tears and 
sighs, and strive, by the painstaking of a 
long-drawn suit, to win the smiles their lack 
of merit forfeits. Men of my presence, mar- 
quis, are not made to love on credit and pay 
all the costs. However choice may be the 
lady's favors, I think, thank God, my value 
equals hers; and to do honor to a heart like 
mine is sure no reason it should cost her 
nothing. To put the thing on equitable grounds, 
she must at least meet my advance half-way. 

Clitandre. So you think, marquis, you stand 
well with Celimene? 

Acaste. Marquis, I have some ground to 
think so. -'-.. ._ . . 

Clitandre. Take my advice; get rid of that 
idea; it is an error. You flatter yourself, my 
friend, you blind yourself 

Acaste. Quite true; I flatter and I blind 

Clitandre. Why call your happiness so per- 
fect, then? 

Acaste. I flatter myself. 

Clitandre. On what do you found your 

Acaste. I blind myself. 


CUtandre. Then you have proofs to give 
you certainty? 

Acaste. I tell you, I deceive myself. 

CUtandre. Can it be that Celimene has made 
you secret promises? 

Acaste. No, she rebuffs me. 

CUtandre. Oh! cease this jesting, and let 
me know what hopes you really have. 

Acaste^ I am the luckless, you the lucky 
one. She has so deep an aversion to me that 
one of these days I'll surely hang myself. 

CUtandre. Ah ca! marquis, are you willing 
to settle our fates by agreeing that, if either 
of us can show some certain sign of having 
won her heart, the other shall make way for 
the fortunate lover and relieve him of a rival? 

Acaste. Parbleu! I like that sort of talk, 
and will, with all my heart, agree to it. But 
hush, here she comes. 


Celimene. What! still here? 

CUtandre. Love stayed our feet. 

Celimene. I have just heard a carriage en- 
tering the courtyard. Do you know whose 
it is? 

CUtandre. No. 


Basque. Arsinoe, madame, is coming up to 
see you. 

Velimene. What can that woman want with 

Basque. Eliante is below, and is talking 
with her. 

Celimene. Something is in her mind, or why 
should she come here? 


Acaste. She is thought to be a most con- 
summate prude, and in the ardor of her 

CUmene. Yes, yes, pure cant! At heart she's 
of the world; and all her efforts aim at hook- 
ing on to others in which, however, she has 
small success. She cannot see without an 
envious eye a woman followed by a train of 
suitors; and her sour virtue, overlooked by 
all, is ever grumbling that the age is blind. 
She tries to cover with a veil of prudery the 
frightful solitude in which she lives; and, to 
save the honor of her scanty charms, she at- 
tributes sin to powers that they have not. And 
yet a lover would be most pleasant to my 
lady. She even shows some tenderness for 
Alceste; the attentions that he pays to me 
offend her; she tries to make it seem that I 
have stolen them; and her jealous spite, which 
she can scarce -conceal, is felt in underhanded 
ways on every side. I have never seen any- 
thing, I think, so foolish; and with it all she 
is impertinent to the last degree. Therefore 



Celimenc. Ah! what fortunate fate brings 
me this visit? Madame, in all sincerity, I was 
beginning to feel most anxious for your wel- 

Arsinoe. I have come, madame, to offer 
you some advice, which I feel I owe to you. 

CeUmene. Ah! how good of you, and how 
glad I am to see you! 

Clitandre and Acaste go out laughing. 



Arsinoe. The departure of those gentlemen 
is timely. 

Celimene. Shall we sit down? 

Arsinoe. It is not necessary. Madame, 
friendship should, above all, be shown in things 
that most affect our fellows; and as there are 
none more vitally important than those of 
honor and decorum, I have come to prove the 
friendship my heart feels for you by offering 
counsel which concerns your honor. Yester- 
day I visited some friends, of sterling virtue. 
There the conversation turned on you; un- 
fortunately, your conduct and its notoriety 
were not approved. The crowd of men you 
suffer to approach you, your coquetry, and the 
rumors it excites, received more consure and 
far harsher blame than I could wish. You 
will readily conceive the course I took. I 
said all that I could in your defence; excused 
you, firmly, as to your intentions, offering 
to vouch for your good soul. But as you 
know there are things in life that cannot be 
excused, however much we wish to do so, and 
I found myself, at last, constrained to admit 
that your manner of living does certainly seem 
wrong, and has to the world an injurious 
appearance; also that mischievous tales are 
being told of it, and that your conduct might, 
if you were only willing, give far less ground 
for condemnation. Not that I think your virtue 
really injured God forbid that I should think 
so! But the world believes in the mere shadow 
of sin; and it is not enough to satisfy our con- 
science only. Madame, I think your mind too 
reasonable to take amiss this useful counsel, 
or to attribute it to other motives than the 
hearty zeal which binds me to your interests. 


Celimene. Madame, I have many thanks to 
render you; such counsel can but gratify me; 
and, far from taking it amiss, I wish to recog- 
nize the favor you have done me by instantly 
returning it with other counsel which concerns 
your honor. As you have shown yourself so 
heartily my friend by telling me the rumors 
people spread about me, I wish to follow, in 
my turn, so kind an example by telling you 
what people say of you. The other day, at a 
house where I was visiting, I met some persons 
of high character, who, speaking of a soul's true 
kindness, turned their remarks, madame, on 
you. Unfortunately, your prudery and your 
bursts of pious zeal were not regarded by them 
as a good example. This affection of a grave 
demeanor; your endless talks of virtue and of 
honor; your frowns and outcries at the shadow 
of indecency which one ambiguous word can 
cast upon yourself; the pitying glances you 
bestow on others; your frequent lectures, yeur 
sour censure of things that in themselves are 
pure and innocent, all this, if I may speak 
to you quite frankly, madame, was blamed with 
one consent. What is the good, they said, of 
all this modesty, this virtuous exterior, if it be- 
lies the rest? 'Tis true she says her prayers 
with rigid punctuality, but then she beats her 
servants and she does not pay them; in pious 
places she displays her zeal, but she paints her 
face in order to seem handsome; she covers up 
the nakedness of pictures, but has a liking for 
realities. As for me, madame, I took up firmly 
your defence with each and all; assuring them 
that what they said was slanderous. But their 
views clashed with mine; and their conclusion 
was that you would do well to meddle less with 
others' actions and look more closely to your 
own. They said we ought to look at home a 
good long time before we think of judging other 


people; that an exemplary life alone gives 
weight to our correction of the lives of others; 
moreover, that in any case, 't is better to remit 
that duty to those whom heaven has selected for 
it. Madame, I think you are too reasonable to 
take amiss this useful counsel, or to attribute 
it to other motives than the hearty zeal which 
binds me to your interests. 

Arsinoe. I know that in reproving we sub- 
ject ourselves to much; but I did not expect this 
sharp retort, madame; and I see plainly, by its 
very bitterness, that my sincere advice has cut 
you to the heart. 

Celimene. Quite the contrary, madame; and 
if the world were wise these mutual counsels 
would be made the custom. Given in good 
faith, they would dispel the utter blindness each 
has for himself. It rests with you to carry on 
this faithful office with your past zeal. Let 
us take pains to tell ourselves, between our- 
selves, just what you hear of me, and I of you. 

Arsinoe. Ah, madame, I shall hear nought 
of you; it is of me the most reproving things 
are said. 

Celimene. Madame, I think that all things 
may be praised and blamed; and each award 
is just, according to age or fancy. There is a 
season for coquettish gallantry; there is an- 
other, still more suitable, for prudery. "Tis 
wise, from policy, to choose that style when 
time has deadened the glow of youth; it serves 
to cover a mortifying downfall. I don't deny 
that some day I may follow on your traces, 
for age brings everything. But it is still too 
early, madame, as everybody knows, to be a 
prude at twenty. 

Arsinoe. You plume yourself on very slight 
advantages, and ring your age with wonderful, 
effect! But an advantage that you share with 
many is not so much to boast of, after all. I 


know not why your temper drives you, madame, 
thus to provoke me in so strange a way. 

Celimene. And I, madame, I really know not 
why you constantly declaim against me every- 
where. Must I be punished for your disappoint- 
ments? Is it my fault that no one courts you? 
What can I do if men will love me, and will 
persist in offering vows your heart may wish 
to take away from me? The field is open to 
you. I do not hinder any of your charms from 
winning lovers. 

Arsinoe. Alas! and do you really think the 
number of your lovers, of which you seem so 
vain, can trouble others; or that we do not find 
it easy to appraise the price at which you 
gain them? Do you think to persuade us 
who see how things are going that your good 
qualities alone attract your followers; or that 
they burn for you with honest love, and court 
you solely for your virtue? The world is not 
a dupe; it is not blind by such vain pretences. 
Many a woman fitted to inspire the tenderest 
sentiments does not have lovers; from that the 
argument is plain: their hearts cannot be won 
without great effort, for none may woo us for 
our beauty only, but all must buy the right of 
courting us. Therefore you need not swell with 
pride for such poor sparkles of a trivial victory- 
Correct the self-conceit of your attractions, and 
cease to treat us superciliously. If our eyes 
envied the conquests your obtain, methinks we 
all could do as you do, cease to conduct our- 
selves with self-respect, and let you see that 
others can have suitors when they please. 

Celimene. Then have them, madame; let me 
see it done; with this rare secret make the 
effort to please, and 

Arsinoe. Madame, let us end this confer- 
ence; it irritates too much your soul and mine. 


I should already have taken leave of you, were 
I not forced to wait here for my carriage. 

Celimene. Pray stay as long as suits you, 
madame; nothing need hasten your departure. 
But, not to weary you with my presence, I'll 
give you better company; and monsieur here, 
whom chance has brought so opportunely, shall 
fill my place and entertain you better. 


Celimene. Alceste, I have a letter I must 
write; it cannot be delayed without some blame 
to me. Stay with madame; she will have the 
kindness, I am sure, to excuse my incivility. 



Arsinoe. You see she wishes me to entertain 
you until my carriage comes; and her civility 
could provide me with nothing more truly 
charming than this interview. Persons of lofty 
merit draw forth the esteem and love of every 
one; and yours, undoubtedly, has secret charms 
which lead my heart to enter all your in- 
terests. I wish the court, with more propitious 
eyes, would do full justice to your claims. You 
have much cause for indignation. I am angry 
almost daily to see that nothing has been done 
for you. 

Alceste. For me, madame? On what pre- 
tensions should I base a claim? What service 
to the State have I been known to render? 
What have I done, if you please, so brilliant 
in itself that I have cause to grumble because 
the court does nothing in return for it? 

Arsinoe. It is not every one on whom our 
court casts a propitious eye who has done good 


service to the State. Opportunity is needed as 
well as power. The great deserts tnat all men 
see in you ought 

Alceste. For heaven's sake, madame, say 
nothing of my deserts. Why do you wish the 
court to trouble itself about them? Its cares 
would be too many and its hands too full if 
it unearthed the merits of everybody. 

Arsinoe. A dazzling merit will unearth it- 
self; and yours is thought extreme on every 
side. I must tell you now that yesterday, in 
two distinguished houses, you were much 
praised by persons of great weight. 

Alceste. Hey! madame, 't is nowadays the 
fashion to laud every one. That is the way by 
which the present century levels everything. 
All are of equal merit; it is no longer an honor 
to be praised. Why! praises are stuffed down 
your throat, flung at your head; and there's 
my valet's name in the gazette!, 

Arsinoe. For my part, I have wished you to 
obtain some place at court in which to show 
your merit to the world. If only you consented, 
we would intrigue a little, and, to oblige you, 
start a few machines I myself have men in 
hand whom I could use, and they would make 
the way quite smooth for you. 

Alceste. Madame, what would you have me 
do at court? The disposition that I feel with- 
in me requires rather that I keep away from 
it. Heaven did not make me, when it gave me 
breath, with a soul congenial to the courtly at- 
mosphere, I am conscious that I do not pos- 
sess the necessary virtues to succeed there and 
do my duty. Frankness and sincerity are my 
chief talents; and he who does not have the 
gift of hiding what he thinks, had better make 
short stay in courtly regions. Outside the 
court, of course we cannot have the strong sup- 
port or the titles of honor it gives nowadays. 


But, in losing those advantages, we are spared 
the vexations trifling of silly persons; we need 
not suffer merciless rebuffs, nor be compelled 
to praise the verse of Monsieur Such-a-one, nor 
shower incense on Madame This-or-that, nor 
undergo the brains of seedling marquises. 

Arsinoe. Then we will drop, since you de- 
sire it, this matter of the court; but my heart 
is forced to pity you in your love; and, if I 
may disclose my thoughts upon it, I wish with 
all my soul 't were better placed. Indeed you 
have deserved a gentler fate, for she who 
charms you is unworthy of you. 

Aleeste. In saying that, I beg you to re- 
member, madame, this lady is your friend. 

Arsinoe. Yes. But my conscience is too 
wounded to bear a moment longer the wrong 
she does you. The state in which I see you 
grieves my soul too much; I am forced to warn 
you she betrays your love. 

Aleeste. You show me thus, madame, a 
tender impulse; such warnings would oblige a 

Arsinoe. Yes, though she be my friend, she 
is, and I dare say it, unworthy to enthrall a 
good man's heart; hers has for you a counter- 
feited tenderness. 

Aleeste. It may be so, madame; we cannot 
see the hearts of others. But your charity 
might well have paused before you cast this 
painful thought in mine. 

Arsinoe. Oh! if you do not wish to be unde- 
ceived, there is no need to tell you anything; 
that, indeed, is easy. 

Aleeste. No, it can not end so. This is a 
subject on which, no matter what is learned, 
doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths. 
For my part, I would rather nothing were told 
me unless it could be shown with certainty. 

Arsinoe. That is enough. Upon this subject 


you shall have full light. Yes, I will let you 
trust your own eyes only. Give me your hand 
to take me home. There I will show you posi- 
tive proof of the unfaithful heart of her you 
love. And, if for other eyes your own could 
long, it may be you would find some there to 
comfort you. 





Philinte. No, a soul so hard to manage was 
never seen; no reconciliation was ever yet so 
troublesome to bring about. In vain they tried in 
every way to move him; out of his fixed opinion 
he would not be dragged. Never did a more 
fantastic quarrel, I am sure, engage the wisdom 
of the Marshals. "No, gentlemen," he said, 1 
shall not retract. On every other matter I will 
agree with him, but not on this. Why is he 
affronted? Of what does he complain? Is his 
fame injured because he cannot write poems? 
What does my opinion, which he takes so ill, 
signify to him? A man can be a gentleman and 
make bad verses. Such matters do not touch 
his honor, and I told him to be a gallant man 
in every other way; a man of quality, of cour- 
age, deserving of anything you please, buta 
bad writer. I will praise, if you wish it, his 
way of living, of spending money, his skill on 
horse-back, in fencing, dancing; but as for 
praising his verses, I beg to be excused! When 
a man has not the happiness to be able to write 
better than that, he ought to repress, under 
pain of death, his desire to make rhymes. 
Finally, all the grace and concession to which, 
with great effort, his feelings were brought 
could only induce him to say thinking that 


he softened his style exceedingly: "Monsieur, 
I am sorry to be so critical, and I heartily wish, 
out of good-will to you, that I could have 
thought your sonnet better." After which an 
embrace was hastily brought about in order 
to conclude the proceedings as fast as possible. 

Eliante. He certainly is very singular in his 
manner of acting; but, I must confess, I esteem 
him highly. The sincerity on which his soul 
so prides itself has something noble and heroic 
in it. 'Tis a virtue rare indeed in these days; 
and I wish I could see it in others as in him. 

Philinte. As for me, the more I see of him 
the more amazed I am at this passion to which 
he yields his heart. With the nature it has 
pleased God to give him, I cannot see how it is 
that he loves as he does; and still less do I see 
why your cousin should be the woman to whom 
his heart inclines. 

Eliante. It only shows that love is not in- 
variably produced in hearts by harmony of 
disposition; and all those theories of gentle 
sympathy are in this case belied. 

Philinte. But do you think, from what you 
see, that he is loved? 

Eliante. That is a point it is not easy to 
make out. How can we judge how truly she 
may love him? Her heart is never really sure 
itself; sometimes she loves and does not know 
it; at other times she thinks she loves and 
there is nothing in it. 

Philinte. I think our friend will find more 
grief than he imagines with your cousin. To 
tell the truth, if he possessed my heart, he 
would have turned his homage elsewhere, and 
by a wiser choice have shown, madame, that 
he profits by the kindness you have shown him. 

Eliante. For myself, I stand on no punctilio, 
for I think that in such matters we should show 
good faith. I do not oppose his tenderness for 


Celimene; on the contrary, my heart is inter- 
ested for her, and if the thing depended upon 
me I should myself unite him to the one he 
loves. But if in such a choice (as well may 
happen) his love should meet some unpropitious 
fate, and it so chanced another's suit were 
crowned, I could resolve to accept his homage 
then; for the refusal suffered by him in such 
a case would cause me no repugnance. 

Philinte. Neither do I oppose, madame, the 
kindness which your charming soul bestows 
upon him; and he himself can tell you, if he 
will, what I have taken pains to say to him 
about it. But if, by the marriage which he 
now desires, you should be unable to receive 
his vows, I shall then seek the transcendent 
favor which your soul with so much generosity 
now gives to him, happy when his heart turns 
elsewhere, if yours, madame, falls back on 

Eliante. You are making merry, Philinte. 

Philinte. No, madame; I am speaking now 
of my soul's best; and I await the occasion to 
offer myself openly; trusting, with all my heart,- 
the moment soon may come. 


Alceste. Ah! avenge me, madame, for an af- 
front which has, at last, conquered my con- 

Eliante. "What is it? "What can have moved 
you thus? 

Alceste. That which I can't cenceive of with- 
out dying. And the upheaval of all the natural 
world could not unhinge me more than this 
disaster. 'Tis done, 'tis over! My love I can- 
not speak of it! 

Eliante. Try to control your mind. 


Alceste. Oh, just Heaven! why were such 
charms joined to the vices of the basest souls? 

Eliante.- But still, what have 

Alceste. Ah! all is ruined; I am I am be- 
trayed, I am destroyed. Celimene who could 
believe it? Celimene deceives me; she is un- 

Eliante. Have you just grounds for that 

Philinte. Perhaps it is mere suspicion, light- 
ly kindled. Your jealous mind invents, at 
times, chimeras. 

Alceste. Ha! morbleu! monsieur, mind your 
own affairs. [To Eliante'] I am, alas! too cer- 
tain of her treachery; for here, in my pocket, 
written by her own hand, is a letter to Oronte 
which proves to my very eyes her shame and 
my disgrace Oronte! whose homage I be- 
lieved she fled; the one of all my rivals whom 
I feared the least. 

Philinte. A letter easily misleads at sight, 
and is often not so guilty as we think it. 

Alceste. Monsieur, once more, let me alone, 
I beg; and keep your interest for your own 

Eliante. You ought to moderate your anger. 
And this outrage 

Alceste. Madame, it rests with you to avenge 
it. It is to you I have recourse to free my 
heart from poignant anguish. Avenge me on 
your cousin, your ungrateful and perfidious 
cousin, who basely has betrayed a faithful love. 
Avenge me for a wrong which you must hold 
in horror. 

Eliante. I avenge you! how? 

Alceste. Accept my heart accept it, ma- 
dame, and take the place of that unfaithful 
woman. In that way only can I have revenge; 
T wish to punish her by the honest vows, the 


deep affection, the respectful suit, the assidu- 
ous service, and the fervent duty my heart 
henceforth will offer on your altar. 

Eliante. I pity what you suffer, certainly, 
and I do not reject the heart you offer me; 
but the wrong is not, perhaps, so great as you 
imagine, and you may still give up these 
thoughts of vengeance. When we are hurt by 
some one who has a deep attraction we are 
apt to make rash plans we do not execute. We 
may see powerful reasons to break our chain, 
and yet a guilty dear one soon is innocent; and 
then the revenge we wish to take is easily dis- 
pelled, and we see 't is but a lovers' quarrel 
after all. 

Alceste. No, -no, madame, I assure vou, no. 
The offence is mortal. I break my bonds, and 
there is no return. Nothing can change my 
firm intention, for I should punish myself were 
I to love her still. Here she is; my anger is* 
redoubled by her presence. I will denounce 
her treacherous actions to her face, and so 
confound her. After which, freed once for all 
from her deceitful charm, I'll bring to you a 
heart at liberty. 


Alceste, aside. Oh, heaven! can I be master 
of my emotions? 

Celimene, aside. Heyday! (To Alceste) What 
troubles you thus? Why these sighs, these 
gloomy looks? Are they meant for me? 

Alceste. Of all the wrongs of which the soul 
is capable, nothing compares with your dis- 
loyalty. Pate, devils, and the anger of high 
Heaven have never yet produced a thing so evil. 

Celimene. Here 's sweetness truly, and I 
like it much. 


Alceste. Do not jest; this is no time to 
laugh; blush rather, for there is ample reason; 
I have sure proofs of your betrayal. This was 
the meaning of my troubled soul; 'twas not in 
vain my love became alarmed; those frequent 
doubts you thought so odious were warnings 
of the calamity before me. In spite of all your 
care and cleverness in deception, my star was 
telling me of that I had to fear. But do not 
think that I will suffer the sting of such an 
outrage and not take vengeance. I know we 
have no power over desire; that love is, every- 
where, born independent; no force can thrust 
it on the heart, and every soul is free to choose 
its conqueror. Therefore I should have had no 
reason to complain had your lips spoken truly, 
and refused my suit when first I pressed it. My 
heart would then have had no right to quarrel 
with its fate. But to find my love accepted 
with false vows that is betrayal, that is per- 
fidy, which cannot be too sternly punished, and 
I will give the reins to my resentment. Yes, 
yes, fear all after such infamy; I am no more 
myself, I am all anger! Stabbed by the mortal 
blow your hand has struck, my senses are no 
longer ruled by reason; I yield to the prompt- 
ings of a just resentment, and I will not an- 
swer for what I now may do. 

Celimene. But what has caused, if I may 
ask, this violent fit of anger? Have you lost 
your reason? 

Alceste. Yes, yes, I have lost it! I lost it 
when from the sight of you I took, for my 
sorrow, the poison that is killing me, and when 
I trusted the sincerity of all those traitorous 
charms which so enthralled me. 

Celimene. What is this treachery of which 
you thus complain? 

Alceste. Ah! double-heart, that knows so 
well the art of feigning! But I have the means 


at hand all ready to confound it. Cast your 
eyes here, and recognize your writing. This 
discovered letter suffices to convict you; 
against this witness there is no reply. 

Celimene. Is this the matter that has so 
disturbed you? 

Alceste. You do not blush to see that letter? 

Celimene. And why, pray, should I blush to 
see it? 

Alceste. What! do you add audacity to 
treachery? Will you disavow that note because 
it does not bear your seal? 

Celimene. Why should I disavow a letter 
written by me? 

Alceste. Can you see it without shame for 
the crime toward me of which it proves you 
guilty? , , 

Celimene. You are, upon my word, a most 
unreasonable man. 

Alceste. What! do you dare defy that 
ocular proof, and say that in its tenderness 
to Oronte there is nothing to outrage me and 
make you blush? 

Celimene. Oronte! who says the letter was 
to him? s tM . 

Alceste. The persons who placed it m my 
hands this day. But I'll agree it might be for 
another if so, would my heart have less rea- 
son to complain of yours? would you be guilt- 
less toward me? _ 

Celimene. But if it be a woman to whom I 
wrote that letter, why should it wound you? 
where's the crime of that? 

Alceste. Ha! the shift is good, the evasion 
admirable! I did not expect, I must admit, 
this trick, but it convinces me completely. 
How dare you have recourse to vulgar sub- 
terfuge? Do you think me blind? Go on, 
and let me see the crooked ways, the shifty 
air by which you will maintain so clear a 


[sehood; I'd like to know how you can twist 
to suit a woman the words of that letter which 
is full of passion. Explain, to hide your lack 
of truth, the words I now will read to you 

Celimene. I do not choose it. I think you 
are ridiculous enough, to use your power as 
you do, and dare to tell me to my face all 

Alceste. No, no; be not so angry; take some 
pains to justify these words of yours 

Celimene. No, I refuse to hear them; what 
it may please you to believe in this affair is of 
the smallest consequence to me. 

Alceste. I beg of you, tell me the truth; I 
will be satisfied if I can be that the letter 
is to a woman. 

Celimene. No, the letter is to Oronte; I wish 
it to be believed. I receive his attentions with 
great pleasure; I admire what he says, I value 
what he is. I am ready to agree to all you 
say. Now, do as you please, take your own 
course; but do not wear me out with such 
scenes any longer. 

Alceste, aside. Heavens! was ever my fate 
more cruel? Was ever heart so treated? What! 
when a just displeasure forces me to speak, 't 
is I who am complained of, I who make the 
quarrel! My grief and my suspicions are goad- 
ed on, and I am told I may believe the worst 
in which she glories! And yet my heart is still 
so cowardly as not to break the chain that 
binds me to her, or arm itself with laudable con- 
tempt for the ungrateful object it has loved too 
well. {To Celimene) Ah! you know well, per- 
fidious woman, how to make my weakness serve 
your ends in spite of myself, and how to use 
the fatal love, born of your eyes, to carry out 
your purposes. Defend yourself, at least, from 
a crime that overwhelms me; cease this affec- 
tation of being guilty. Prove to me, if you 


can, the innocence of that letter; my tender- 
ness consents to come to your assistance strive 
to seem faithful, and I, in turn, will strive to 
think you so. 

Cclimene. Oh! you are mad with all your 
jealous transports; you dn't deserve the love 
I feel for you. I should like much to know 
what could induce me to stoop so low as to 
deceive you; and why, if my heart leaned an- 
other way, I should not say so with sincerity. 
How is it that the kind assurance I gave you of 
my feelings was not enough to save me from 
your suspicions? Has such a pledge no power 
against them? and is it not insulting me to 
listen to their voice? Because a woman's heart 
makes a strong effort when it owns its love; 
because the honor of our sex that enemy to 
ardor firmly opposes such avowals, should the 
lover for whose sake we overcome those ob- 
stacles, should he be the one to doubt our truth? 
Is he not guilty in suffering others to say these 
things at least without a combat? Go! such 
foul suspicions deserve my anger; you are not 
worth the esteem in which I held you. How 
foolish I have been! I am vexed with my sim- 
plicity in keeping any kindness in my heart 
for you. I ought to turn my love elsewhere, 
and give you thus a subject of legitimate com- 

Alceste. Ah! traitress, my weakness is in- 
deed a mystery. Doubtless you are deceiving 
me with those soft words. What of it? I 
must follow my destiny; my soul is given over 
to your worship. I wish to see the end of this, 
and know what is your heart, and whether 
it is black enough to still betray me. 

Celimene. No, for you do not love me as I 
must be loved. 

Alceste. Ah! my love is far beyond compare; 
and in its ardor to show itself for what it is 


to all the world, it even forms desires against 
you. Yes, I would fain that no one thought 
you lovable; I would you- were reduced to 
misery; that Heaven denied you everything; 
that you had nor rank, nor birth, nor wealth, 
so that my love might make some startling sac- 
rifice to heal the injustice destiny had done 
you, and that my heart might have the joy and 
glory of seeing you hold all things through my 

Celimene. That's a strange fashion of wish- 
ing well to me; heaven grant you may not 
have the chance of it. But here's your valet, 
seemingly excited. 



Alceste. What is all this? and why this 
frightened air? 

Dubois. Strange things have happened. Mat- 
ters are going wrong in our affairs 

Alceste. How? 

Dubois. Monsieur, we must get away at once. 
We must slip off silently. 

Alceste. But your reason, say? Why do 
you use such language? 

Dubois. The reason is we must be packing. 

Alceste. Ha! I'll break your head assuredly 
if you don't answer differently. 

Dubois. Monsieur, a man all black in face 
and clothes came to the house, and even to 
the kitchen; where he left a paper, scribbled 
in such a way that one had need to be worse 
than any devil to read it. It concerns, no doubt, 
your lawsuit, but all the fiends in hell, I think, 
could never make it out. 

Alceste. Well, what of it? What has that 
paper to do, you fool, with the departure that 
you talked about? 


Dubois. Monsieur, an hour later a gentleman 
who visits vou came hurrying to see you in 
much excitement. Not finding you ^ charged 
me civilly (knowing with what zeal I serve 
you), to tell you- Stay, I wish I could recall 
his name. *-** 

Alceste. No matter for his name; what uiu 
he tell you? ... 

Dubois. Well, he was one of your friends, 
that must suffice. He told me you were in 
danger of arrest, and must get off at once. 

Alceste. But why? Did he not specify the 
reason? ' , 

Dubois. No; he asked for pen and ink and 
wrote a line by which you can, I think, get to 
the bottom of this mystery. 
Alceste. Give it me, then. 
Celimene' What can all this mean? 
Alceste I do not know; but I will clear It 
up Come, you impertinent devil, give me 
the note. . . 

Dubois {after searching long in ^sP )' 
Faith! monsieur I believe I've left it on 
your table. _^ 

Alceste. I don't know what prevents me 

Celimene. Do not be angry; but go at once 
and see what all this means. 

Alceste It seems that fate, whatever pains 
I tike' has sworn to hinder all our mterviews. 
But to defeat it, promise, y \ove, matomg 
that you will let me speak with you again 
this evening. 






Alceste. My resolution is taken, I tell you. 

Philinte. But, however hard the blow, must 
it compel you 

Alceste. Useless to say a word, useless to 
reason with me; nothing that you can do will 
turn me from my purpose. The age in which 
we live is too perverted; I desire to withdraw 
-from intercourse with men. Honor, uprightness, 
decency and the laws were openly arrayed 
against my adversary; on all sides was the 
equity of my cause proclaimed; and on the 
faith of my just rights I rested tranquilly. 
And now hehold, I am defrauded of success; 
justice is with me, but I lose my case! A 
traitor, whose scandalous history is well known 
to all, comes off victorious by the blackest 
falsehood! Those who were on my side yield 
to his treachery! He cuts my throat and makes 
them think it is right. The weight of his 
canting artifice all jugglery! has overthrown 
the Right and baffled Justice: he wins a ver- 
dict which has crowned a crime. And not 
content with the great wrong he has already 
done me, he is spreading everywhere a vil- 
lainous book, the very reading of which is 
most condemnable, a book that merits the 
rigor of the law; and the lying rascal has the 
effrontery to say I wrote it! And Oronte mut- 
ters low and tries* maliciously to circulate the 
calumny, he, who holds the rank of an honest 
man at court; to whom I nave been sincere 
and frank; he, who came to me, with an eager 
ardor which I did not seek, and asked for my 


opinion on his verses. And because I treated 
him with honesty, refusing to be false to him 
or truth, he helps to crush me with an imag- 
inary crime, and now becomes my greatest ene- 
my! Never will his soul forgive me because, 
forsooth! I could not say his verse was good. 
And all men, damn them! have become like 
that. These are the actions to which glory 
leads them! Here's the good faith, the virtuous 
zeal, the justice, and the honor we expect of 
them! No, no, it is too much to bear such 
suffering. I will escape this nest of villains, 
and since with human beings we must live like 
wolves, traitors! you shall not have my lite 
among you. . 

Philinic. I think you are too hasty in form- 
ing that design; the harm is not so great as 
you would make it. The deal this man has dared 
impute to you has not obtained enough belief 
to make the authorities arrest you. That false 
report is dying of itself; it is an action that 
will injure only him who did it. 

Alceste. Injure him, indeed! He does not 
fear the scandal of such tricks. He has the 
world's permission to be a scoundrel; and so 
far from his credit being injured by this deed 
you'll see him in some honored place tomorrow. 
Philinte. Nevertheless 't is certain no one 
has given much belief to the tale his malice 
spreads about you. On that score you have 
nothing at all to fear. As for the verdict on 
your lawsuit, of which indeed you may com- 
plain, justice may yet be won; you can appeal 
against this judgment 

Alceste. No, I shall hold to it. However 
great the wrong that verdict does me, I will 
not have it quashed; it shows too plainly nov> 
the Right is wronged. I wish it to remair 
for all posterity, a signal mark, a noted testi- 
mony to the wickedness of this age. T will 


cost me twenty thousand francs, but with that 
sum I buy the right to curse the iniquity of 
human nature and to keep alive my everlasting 
hatred to it. 

PMHnte. In short 

Alceste. In short, your efforts are super- 
flous. What can you find to say upon this 
matter, monsieur? Will you have the 'effront- 
ery to bid me to my face excuse the infamy 
of what has happened? 

Philinte. No, I am one with you in what you 
say. In these days all things go by base in- 
trigue and selfish interests; craft carries all 
before it. Men ought indeed to be made of 
other metal; but is their lack of probity a 
reason to withdraw yourself from social life? 
All human frailty is a means of exercising our 
philosophy. That is the finest work of virtue. 
If every one were clothed with integrity, if 
every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other 
virtues would be well-nigh useless, since their 
chief purpose is to make us bear with patience 
the injustice of our fellows. And so, a heart 
of honest virtue 

Alceste. I know your words are of the best, 
monsieur, your excellent arguments are most 
abundant; but you waste your time in making 
those fine speeches. Reason demands for my 
soul's good that I retire. I have not enough 
control over my tongue; I cannot answer for 
what I might be led to say; I should have 
twenty duels on my hands at once. Leave me, 
without further argument, to wait for Celimene. 
She must consent to my design. 'T is that which 
brings me here to speak with her. I am about 
to see whether her heart does truly love me; 
this coming hour will prove it to me once 
for all. 

Philinte. Let us go up to Eliante while await- 
ing Celimene. 


Alceste. No, my soul is full of care; do you 
go up, and leave me in this gloomy corner 
with my black misery. .-.- 

Philinte. 'T is cruel company. I will find 
Eliante and bring her down. 


Oronte. Yes, it is for you to say, madame, 
whether you will bind me wholly to you by 
these tender ties. I must have full assurance 
from your soul to mine; a lover cannot bear 
these hesitations. If the ardor of my passion 
has power to move you, you should not feign un- 
willingness to let me know it. The proof I ask 
of you is, plainly, no longer to admit Alceste 
among your suitors; to sacrifice him, madame, 
to my love; and banish him from your house 
this very day. - 

Celimene. But why are you so angry with 
him now, you whom I have often known to 
speak of him with favor? 

Oronte. Madame, there is no need of expla- 
nations. The question is, What are your senti- 
ments? Choose, if you please, between us; keep 
one or else the other; my resolution waits upon 
your will. . . Tr 

Alceste (advancing from his corner). Yes, 
monsieur is right. Madame, you must choose. 
In this his wishes accord with mine; the seli- 
same passion prompts me, the same intention 
brings me hither. My love must have some cer- 
tain proof of yours. Things cannot thus drag 
on another day; this is the moment to reveal 
your heart. mi , T 

Oronte. Monsieur, if your suit succeeds, I 
do not mean that my importunate love shall 

r Alceste.' Monsieur, I shall not seek, jealous 
or not, to share her heart with you. 


Oronte. If she prefers your love to mine 

Alceste. If she is capable of any leaning to- 
ward you 

Oronte. I swear I will no longer court her. 

Alceste. I swear I will no longer see her. 

Oronte. Madame, it is for you to speak with- 
out constraint. 

Alceste. Madame, you can explain yourself 
without anxiety. 

Oronte. You have but to say on whom your 
wishes fall. 

Alceste. You have but to speak the truth and 
choose between us. 

Oronte. What! at making such a choice you 
seem to be distressed! 

Alceste. What! your soul hesitates and seems 

Celimene. Good heavens! this demand is most 
ill-timed; how little sense or reason either of 
you show! I know myself the preference I 
feel; my heart is not upon the scales, suspend- 
ed doubtfully between you. Nothing could be 
more quickly made than the choice you ask for; 
but I should feel, to tell the truth, too much 
embarrassment in making this avowal to your 
face. A choice like this must seem unkind to 
one; it should not, therefore, openly be made 
in presence of both. A heart will always show 
its leanings plainly enough without compelling 
it to bare itself; some gentler means can suro 
be found to show a lover that his attentions 
are unwelcome. 

Oronte. No, no, I do not fear a frank avowal, 
and I consent for my part 

Alceste. And I demand it. It is this very 
publishing I dare exact. I will not have you 
shirk the truth in any way. To keep on terms 
with all the world is what you study. But no 
more dallying, no more indecision now; you 
must explain yourself decisively; or else I take 


refusal for decision, and I shall know, for my 
part, how to explain your silence; I shall con- 
sider said the wrong that I expect of you. 

Oronte. Monsieur, I thank you for your in- 
dignation, and I say to madame, here, the same 
as you. 

CeUmene. How you annoy me with your 
whims! What justice is therein what you ask? 
Have I not told you the motive that restrains 
ml? Here is Eliante, she shall judge this 



CeUmene. Cousin, I am persecuted hy these 
two men, whose scheme appears to have been 
concerted. They each demand, with equal heat, 
that I shall here proclaim, in presence of both, 
the choice my heart has made; and ^ that, in 
giving this decision openly, I shall forbid one 
or the other from paying me attentions. Tell 
me if things are ever done m that way. 

Eliante. Do not consult me; you may find 
that you appeal to the wrong pe rson^ Fran kly , 
I am for those who speak their thoughts. 

Oronte. Madame, it is in vain that you seek 
to evade us. t A . 

Alceste. All your evasions are ill-seconded. 

Oronte. You must, you shall speak out, and 
end this vacillation. 

Alceste. It is enough if you persist m silence. 

Oronte. I ask but a single word to end the 
matter. , _ . - 

Alceste. And I shall comprehend you if you 
say no word. 




Acaste (to Celimene). Madame, we have 
come, Clitandre and I, to clear up, if you please 
without offence, a trifling matter. 

Clitandre (to Oronte and Alceste). Your 
presence, gentlemen, is very timely, for you are 
both concerned in this affair. 

Arsinoe (to Celimene). It may surprise you, 
madame, to see me here, and I must tell you 
that these gentlemen have caused my coming. 
They came to see me to complain of something 
my heart cannot believe. I have too high an 
esteem for your real depth of soul to think you 
capable of so great a wrong. My eyes refused 
their strongest testimony; and my friendship, 
overlooking our small jars, has brought me to 
you in their company that I may see you clear 
yourself at once of this foul calumny. 

Acaste. Madame, we wish to see, in a kindly 
spirit, how you will take these facts. Here is 
a letter written. by you to Clitandre. 

Clitandre. And here is a tender billet writ- 
ten by you to Alcaste. 

Acaste (to Oronte and Alceste). Gentlemen, 
this writing is well-known to you, of course. I 
do not doubt that her civilities have frequently 
enabled you to see it. But the letter itself is 
worthy of being read. 

(Reads.) "What a strange man you are to 
blame me for my gayety, and to declare that 
I am never so pleased as when you are not 
with me. Nothing was ever more unjust; and 


if you do not come at once and beg my pardon 
for this offence, I will never in my life forgive 
you for it. Our tall, ungainly viscount " 

He ought to be present, and hear this. 

"Our tall, ungainly viscount, the first whom 
you complain of, is a man who never pleased 
me; and since I saw him, for an hour together, 
spit in a pond in order to make bubbles, I have 
'had a poor opinion of him. As for the little 

That is myself, gentlemen; I say it without 

"As for the little marquis, who held my hand 
today for a long time, I think him the most 
finical of little beings; there's nothing of him 
but his nobility. And as for the man of the 
green ribbons " 

(To Alceste.) Your turn now, monsieur. 

"As for the man of the green ribbons, he 
amuses me at times with his bluntness and his 
surly grumbling; but there are moments when 
I think him the most irritating mortal upon 
earth. As for the man of sonnets " 

(To Oronte.) This is to your address, mon- 

"As for the man of sonnets, who has flung 
himself into poesy and wishes to be an author 
in defiance of everybody, I do not give myself 
the trouble to listen to him. His prose fatigues 
me even more than his verses. Therefore, do 
pray believe that I am not so gay and amused 
in your absence as you fancy, and that I think 
of you more than I could wish at the parties 
of pleasure to which I am dragged; it is a won- 
derful seasoning of all enjoyments to think of 
those we love." 

Clitandre. And here am I, in this billet to 
Acaste. Your Clitandre, of whom you speak, 
and who says sweet things to me, is the very 


last man for whom I could feel regard. He is 
absurd to imagine he is loved; and you are still 
more absurd to fancy you are not loved. Ex- 
change opinions; and then you will, both of 
you, be more nearly right. Come and see me 
as often as you can, and help me to bear the 
annoyance of being beset by him. There, 
madame, is the model of a noble character; you 
know what it is called. Enough! We shall each 
exhibit, wherever we go, this glorious picture 
of your heart. 

Alcaste. I might say much to you, for the 
subject is a fine one; but I do not count you 
worthy of my anger. I will let you see that 
little marquises can win, for consolation, 
hearts that are worth far more than yours. 

[Exeunt marquises.] 



Oronte. Can it be that you tear me thus to 
pieces after all that you have written and said 
to me? Does your heart, adorned with such 
fine semblances of love, give itself, in turn, to 
all the human race? Go! I have been a dupe, 
but I am one no longer. You have done me, 
madame, a service in letting me unmask you. 
I shall profit in the heart I thus regain, and 
find my vengeance in your loss. (To Alceste.) 
Monsieur, I offer no further hindrance to your 
love; you can conclude your treaty win ma- 
dame. [Exit.] 




Arsinoe. Truly this is the basest act I hare 
ever known. I cannot keep silence, for I feel so 
shocked. Was ever any conduct seen like 
yours? I take no interest in those other men, 
but as for monsieur (motioning to Alceste) 
who rested all his happiness on you, a man like 
him, of honor and great merit, who cherished 
you with absolute idolatry, ought he 

Alceste. Allow me, madame, if you please, to 
manage my affairs myself. Pray do not take 
upon yourself superflous cares. In vain my 
heart hears you take up its quarrel; it is not 
in a state to pay for great zeal. If by another 
choice I wished to avenge myself it would not 
be on you that choice would fall. 

Arsinoe. Eh! do you imagine, monsieur, that 
such a thought exists, or any eagerness is felt 
to win you? I think your mind is far too full 
of vanity if it can flatter itself with that belief. 
Madame's rejected leavings are a merchandise 
one would be foolish indeed to take a fancy to. 
Pray undeceive yourself; carry your thoughts 
less high; I'm not the sort of woman you should 
aspire to. You would do well to keep your sighs 
for her; I long to see so suitable a match. [Exit.] 


Alceste (to Celimene.) Madame, I have kept 
silence, in spite of all that I have seen and 
heard. I have allowed all others to speak be- 
fore me. Have I controlled myself enough, and 
may I now 


Celimene. Yes, say all; you have a right to 
complain, and to reproach me as you will. I 
have done wrong, I here confess it; and my 
discomfited soul will seek no vain excuse to an- 
swer you. I have despised the anger of the 
others, but I admit my crime to yen. Your 
indignation, without a doubt, is reasonable. I 
know how guilty I must seem to you, how all 
things go to prove I have betrayed you. In 
short, you have every right to hate me. D 
so; I consent. 

Alceste. Ah! can I, traitress? Can I thus 
conquer love? However I may long to hate you, 
have I a heart within me to obey my will? (Td 
Eliante and Philinte). See what this abject 
tenderness can do! I call you both to witness 
my great weakness. And yet, this is not all; 
you are about to see me carry that weakness 
farther, show what a folly 't is to call us wise, 
and prove that in all hearts there's still the 
man. (To Celimene). Yes, I am willing to 
forget your guilt; my heart is ready to excuse it 
and call this wrong a foible to which the vices 
of the times misled your youth, provided you 
here consent to clasp hands with the purpose 
I have formed to separate from men and live 
apart in country solitudes; to which, without 
delay you now must follow me. In that way 
only can you still repair, before the eyes of 
all men, the wrong that you have done me. Do 
this, and notwithstanding the notoriety which 
noble hearts abhor, I still shall find it in my 
heart to love you. 

Celimene. I! renounce the world before I am 
old, and bury myself with you in country soli- 

Alceste. But if your love responds to mine 
what matters all the world to you? Will you 
not be content with me alone? 

Celimene. Solitude has terrors for a heart 


so young. I feel that mine has not the gran- 
deur, nor the strength, to resolve upon a 
scheme of this kind. If the bestowal of my 
hand can satisfy your wishes I will consent 
to tie the knot of marriage 

Alceste? No; my soul revolts against you 
now; this hard refusal moves me more than all 
the rest. And since you cannot in so sweet a 
tie find all in me as I found all in you, go! 
I reject you. This sore outrage frees me for- 
ever from your unworthy bonds. [Exit Cell- 



Alceste (to Eliante). Madame, your beauty 
is adorned with every virtue; never have I seen 
aught in you but strict sincerity. I have long 
valued you most highly. Let me continue to 
esteem you thus; and suffer that my heart, in 
all its divers troubles, should not demand the 
honor of your bonds. I feel myself unworthy; 
I begin to know that heaven did not give me 
life for the ties of marriage. 'T would be too 
base a homage to offer you the leavings of a 
heart not worth your own; therefore 

Elicmte. You can fulfil that thought, Alceste. 
My hand is not so difficult to bestow, for here's 
your friend, who, if I asked him, would wil- 
lingly accept it. 

Philinte. Ah! that honor, madame, is my sole 
desire. To gain it, I would sacrifice both blood 
rind life. 

-.xiE MI&aMTHROPE 63 

Alceste. And may you ever taste of true con- 
tentment, by keeping, each for each, such senti- 
ment JS x As f . or me ' Grayed on all sides, 
crushed by injustice, I leave a pit where vices 
triumph, to seek somewhere on earth a lonelv 
spot where I am free to be a man of honor. 

Phiiinte. Come, madame, come, let us em- 
ploy all ways to thwart this scheme his heart 



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